Essential Oils for Anxiety

This week, I received my copy of my professional association’s journal, “In Essence.” One of the articles that struck me was one on Essential Oils for Anxiety which looked at four studies.

The first, from Brazil was the use of aromatherapy massage using essential oils of Lavender and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) in a psychiatric setting for patients with personality disorder. Those treated showed a significant reduction in anxiety compared with the control group.

The second study from Iran, looked at anxiety in the first stage of Labour and sweet orange essential oil was put on gauze squares attached to the women’s clothing. Again significantly lower anxiety levels were seen compared with the control group.

The third from America and  aromatherapy tabs of Lavender-Sandalwood and Orange-Peppermint were used. (These tabs allow the absorption of the diluted essential oils over a period of time.) It was found that the Lavender-Sandalwood group experienced significantly less anxiety than either the Orange Peppermint group or the placebo group.

The fourth study from Japan was done with patients undergoing a colonoscopy.

Aromatherapy was performed by vapour diffusion, and each patient was given one of the following treatments: no inhalation (control group), essential-oil-less vapor (vehicle group), lavender oil (lavender group), grapefruit oil (grapefruit group), or Osmanthus fragrans oil (Osmanthus fragrans group). Following total colonoscopy procedures, each patient estimated their anxiety and abdominal discomfort using the Numeric Rating Scale. The Osmanthus and Grapefruit groups both experienced significantly lower anxiety than the other groups. There was a reduction in the lavender group compared to  the control and vehicle groups but it was not statistically significant.

Osmanthus Fragrans is the only essential oil used in the studies that I have not used in my practice. However, having looked at these studies I will be looking to try it out.

These four studies show that essential oils can help to relieve anxiety in a number of situations. My anecdotal evidence is that they can also make a big difference to those who experience anxiety in day to day situations and their use should not be confined to those undergoing stressful procedures or mental health treatment.

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